One of my favourite programs of late has been ‘Person of Interest’. For those who are unaware of it, it follows Harold, who developed a security program for the US government after 9/11 that took all data available, meta-data, phone data, all government data and relevant camera’s i.e. traffic and worked out who could be a terrorist. Harold, worried about its abilities as the system seemed to become aware, only set it up to provide social security numbers to the government. He was afraid of what people in power could do with the knowledge the data could provide.
So last night I was watching ABC’s ‘Four Corners’ where digital dissidents who blew the whistle on government security agencies were interviewed – including Edward Snowdon and Julian Assange. There were two NSA whistleblowers as well and one from MI5. What was really interesting was that Edward Snowdon, in a Skype appearance at a hackers conference recently, suggested the biggest danger to US citizens was their meta-data being taken and analysed by government agencies. That, and their banking and credit card details. So, is there a ‘machine’ like the one from PoI? Maybe it already exists.
These whistleblowers thought of themselves as patriots to their countries and the world in letting everyone know that ‘big brother is really watching’ and that with smart phones, chips in banking cards and credit cards, access to Google and meta-data (a law recently passed in Australia that it is required to be kept for 2 years for access if required) made privacy a thing of the past.
I’ve recently been reading a bit on the internet on those computer scientists who are becoming worried about artificial intelligence – that if we let that genie out of the box, make machines that think for themselves, we are asking to becomes slaves to them. But aren’t we already slaves to our digital machines? This blog, Facebook and other social media, our smart phones that we can’t seem to live without are already intruding on our physical interaction with each other. The caravan park we recently stayed at had a sign that said “We do not have WiFi. Talk to each other instead.”
I’m not one for conspiracy theories but it does seem that our governments are becoming more secretive and we as its citizens are giving away our privacy. Where is this going to lead? I have no answers but I will say it’s beginning to worry me. So much so I have privacy settings on my browsers, https, VPN and delete my browsing history often. Yet I still have GPS going on my smart phone because it’s so handy with Google and maps and photo’s etc. So anyone who is clever enough can know where I am, what I spend my money on, who I talk to on my mobile and just about most aspects of my life if they get onto my FB page.
And I’ve been fully involved in letting it happen. Scary really.